The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced a major new piece of research into the future challenges and opportunities facing central #London and the Canary Wharf area

Channel 1 Los Angeles

9/15/2020 London

London’s global business, commercial and cultural centre, based in what are known as the Central Activities Zone and Northern Isle of Dogs (CAZ and NIoD), is under immediate threat as a result of the crisis due to the huge rise in home-working, the need to socially distance, unprecedented restrictions on cultural venues and events, and the collapse in international travel. In the long term, new challenges and opportunities will be created by the more lasting cultural and economic changes arising from or exacerbated by the pandemic.

The London Transition Board has been leading on tackling the immediate challenges of reopening central London and ensuring a safe return to work for Londoners. But the Mayor is also determined to ensure London’s global competitiveness for the future, and to safeguard and enhance its position as an international powerhouse for culture, tourism and innovation, by understanding and preparing for the long-term impacts on the central London economy.

The economic case for focusing on central London is overwhelming – the combined output of central London and the Northern Isle of Dogs and their immediate surroundings was around £228bn in 2017 and accounted for over half of London’s output and over a tenth of UK output. 

Sadiq has commissioned the research to help City Hall and its partners understand the emerging trends that might affect London’s city centre economy, including cultural and economic changes that may become the new normal as the city recovers. 

The first phase of this recovery mapping work will be a major research and evidence-gathering exercise into the issues that central London and the Canary Wharf area are facing, and the trends that are likely to develop, with an interim report due early in the New Year. Following this, the focus will shift to exploring potential policy solutions to help the centre of London evolve and adapt to potential shifts and transitions.

This research follows a major survey announced by Sadiq last week, which is currently underway, asking London businesses to provide more detail on how many people can actually physically go back into their workplaces with the social distancing rules in place, in order to understand what ‘back to work’ really means in central London. This work will provide a major snapshot of the position of London offices now – and where businesses expect to be in six months – to help show what more City Hall and Government can do to help businesses.

The work is commissioned in the context of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in the capital that the Mayor says is ‘seriously concerning’ and as new social distancing rules come into effect that limit social gatherings.

Last week the Mayor and London leaders met with Government and agreed to monitor the situation in the capital very closely.

Today the Mayor will also attend a conference of international progressive Mayors and leaders to discuss information sharing on how to deal with the social and economic impact of the pandemic and the road to recovery. Sadiq will chair sessions alongside Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Former Prime Minister of Denmark and Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission.

The announcement comes as Sadiq and Cllr Peter John, the Chair of London Councils confirm further details about long-term measures to enable a positive recovery across the city.

Eight ‘missions’ designed to tackle economic and social issues head-on have been agreed by London Recovery Board members following collective thinking from local authorities, health and care bodies, business groups, trade unions, the voluntary sector, academia, national Government and other bodies. As part of the decision-making process, Londoners have informed the priorities and content of the missions through a mass public engagement exercise using the Talk London platform, which currently has nearly 60,000 users. 

The missions aim to restore confidence in the city, minimise the impact on London’s communities and build back better the capital’s economy and society. They are:

  • A Green New Deal – Tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and improve air quality by doubling the size of London’s green economy by 2030 to accelerate job creation for all.
  • A Robust Safety Net – By 2025, every Londoner is able to access the support they need to prevent financial hardship.
  • High Streets for All – Deliver enhanced public spaces and exciting new uses for underused high street buildings in every Borough by 2025, working with London’s diverse communities.
  • A New Deal for Young People – By 2024 all young people in need are entitled to a personal mentor and all young Londoners have access to quality local youth activities.
  • Helping Londoners into Good Work – Support Londoners into good jobs with a focus on sectors key to London’s recovery.
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing – By 2025 London will have a quarter of a million wellbeing ambassadors, supporting Londoners where they live, work and play.
  • Digital Access for All – Every Londoner to have access to good connectivity, basic digital skills and the device or support they need to be online by 2025.
  • Healthy Food, Healthy Weight – By 2025 every Londoner lives in a healthy food neighbourhood.

The Board will also explore what work can be done across sectors to support London’s communities to be more resilient in future – for example to build on the amazing network of mutual aid groups we saw spring up across the city in the first wave of COVID-19 infections.

The London Recovery Taskforce will oversee the delivery of these missions. Work will be led by a range of partner organisations across the capital, keeping in mind the risks and barriers potentially posed by the current rise in infection rates.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “There is no doubt that the economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic will be prolonged and far-reaching.

“The rises in COVID cases in recent days is seriously concerning and we will all have to abide by social distancing rules for a long time to come.

“Hopefully at some point not too long from now, we will have defeated this virus and social distancing will come to an end. But the extent to which trends and shifts that were already affecting central London have been sped up or exacerbated by COVID-19, or behaviours that have come about as a result of how people have responded to the virus will persist into the future are unknown. But these have the potential to have a dramatic impact on issues like planning, public transport and economic development in central London and it is only right and responsible we look at these issues now, identify both the challenges and the opportunities, and start planning for our city’s future over the coming years.

“Since the London Recovery Board formed in the summer, we have been hearing from London leaders and citizens about their experiences of COVID-19.

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